Saturday, April 28, 2018

Five Minute Friday: STUCK


Today I'm linking up with Five Minute Friday, writing for five minutes on a given prompt. This week's word: STUCK.




Have you ever felt like you're stuck in someone else's story? I have. 

Several years ago I experienced the breakup of a longstanding friendship. Now, when I look back, I feel in a way as if I was playing a role in the other person's narrative all along. She was the star; I was supporting actress. I was her "champion." To use a Lord of the Rings analogy, I was faithful helper Sam to her Frodo. Or as Anne Tyler describes in one of her novels, my friend was the volleyball, and I was a pair of hands helping keep her in the air. 

She even described our breakup as "a time of unexpected transition" for her -- a stage in her journey -- rather than as the loss of something valuable and important. Later, when she had achieved some success in her field and I congratulated her, she replied by mentioning the part I had had in her achievements. The role I'd played was the focus -- not sadness that we were not able to truly share the experience as we might have in the past.

I know there are times we need to accept our role and responsibility in someone else's life, whether short- or long-term. But that can still be done in a spirit of dignity and equality. It's one thing to feel called to support and encourage a friend with a serious illness or trauma, or to know deep down that it's our task to care for an ailing family member or advocate to ensure their care is provided. But it's another thing to be relegated to following a script in someone else's drama -- or worse, to be rejected for not even realizing there was a script. 

We must always guard against making other people characters in the drama of our lives. As Barbara Brown Taylor puts it in An Altar in the World,

"The point [of encountering another human being] is to see the person standing right in front of me, who has no substitute, who can never be replaced, whose heart holds things for which there is no language, whose life is an unsolved mystery. The moment I turn that person into a character in my own story, the encounter is over. I have stopped being a human being and have become a fiction writer instead."


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22 comments:

  1. I'm your FMF neighbor. So sorry you had went through that. I also feel this way at times.

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Rebecca. So nice to have you here.

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  2. Jeannie, it still amazes me (it shouldn’t ) that at even 59 years old, the actions of those I care about can hurt me so deeply. A friendship lost is hard especially if we’ve put our heart and soul in to it! I’m so sorry for the pain you must experience in this situation. God Bless You, Cindy #fmf FB page

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    1. Thank you, Cindy - I appreciate your words.

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  3. I definitely understand this kind of stuck, friend. It's hard to not get sucked up into the drama until you realize how deep into it you are.

    Also, I LOVE that quote. BBT is a favorite author of mine!

    Visiting from FMF

    Jordan

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    1. Hi Jordan, great to have you here. I enjoy BBT's writing as well. I've only read An Altar in the World and Leaving Church, but I'm very interested in reading more.

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  4. Yes and amen to that and especially that last paragraph. It was good that you recognised the basis of that friendship. Its hard to lose or let go of friendships - it can sting very badly but sometimes its the right thing. Again that last paragraph - if we all did that. Linked up near you at FMF

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    1. Thanks so much Tracey - I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Have a great weekend.

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  5. I'm sorry that you experienced this with a friend. So hard! But I love the BBT quote. An Altar in the World is on my to read pile, I'm over in the 6 spot this week.

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    1. It's a beautiful book, Tara. Thanks for reading and commenting today - have a great weekend.

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  6. Such truth. I can relate to your experience so well. I believe that each relationship that we experience in our journey, whether it's for a season or for a life time, is meant to teach us important lessons, to help us to grow spiritually, and ultimately to develop our character in our pilgrimage of love. I am next door neighbor. So that I that I stopped by. Blessings & Love to you

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    1. Hi Joan, so glad you came by today. I think you're right that we need to look at the value of all the relationships in our life and not take them for granted. There is always something to learn from even the most disappointing experiences. And the truth is that my relationship with my friend was wonderful in many ways - which is why it lasted so long. That makes the loss harder, though, of course. Thanks for your thoughts, and have a great weekend.

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  7. Jeannie, thanks for sharing your story and the wisdom gained. Two of my responses were, "Wow," and "God, please do not let me treat others the way Jeannie was treated." Thanks also for the BTB quote. Powerful. Visiting from FMF.

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    1. Great to have you here; thanks so much!

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  8. Jeannie, I'm so sorry this happened. It's hard on the heart when someone doesn't/can't acknowledge the relationship and focuses on something else, like you described. Thank you for the reminder to cherish the people God places in our lives for who they are, not for what they do for us.

    Touching post!

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    1. Thanks for these words, Jeanne. I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment!

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  9. Jeannie, this was so touching. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Last summer on the blog Lisanotes.com, I read something that impacted me: Often I look at life as a movie. I am the star and everyone else a supporting player. I forget that everyone else is a star in their OWN movie. (My paraphrase.) Remembering this helps me avoid making things all about me. It sounds like maybe your friend hadn't realize you have your own movie too!

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    1. That's really helpful, Betsy. I think that's exactly it! This experience has certainly made me more mindful of how this can happen. Thanks so much for this insight. And thanks for coming by!

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  10. Thank you so much for this post, Jeannie. I never thought about this -- being stuck in someone else's story -- but it makes complete sense. It's beautiful that you can see this objectively now, especially after being so hurt, and share it with all of us. I'm going to google that book right now. FMF#34

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Beth; I really appreciate your feedback and your taking the time to read and comment.

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  11. Wowsa! Such a powerful post. I'm so sad that someone as gracious as you would have received such awful treatment from a "friend." God help us to walk humbly on this earth and to be ministers of grace to those we encounter. Blessings to you from spot #78.

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    1. Thanks so much, Vicki. I had many beautiful times with my friend but I think certain unhealthy patterns can develop - and then when problems arise that gets exposed. That's how I felt anyway. Thanks for coming by to read and comment.

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